"I’m asking you to reinterpret a Potter character. What would Peter Rabbit look like if you illustrated him? What about Tom Kitten? Or Jeremy Fisher? I want to see at least one character doing something, somewhere. Give this assignment some thought. Truly anything goes. What I don’t want to see is your best Beatrix Potter interpretation. Be you. What does a Potter world look like through your visual filter?" That was my assignment for the 2016 Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators of the Carolinas Illustration Intensive. I chose the story "The Tailor of Gloucester" to illustrate. In my drawing the tailor's cat, Simpkin, is being made to wear a jester's costume on the catwalk, in punishment for trapping the mice under tea cups, and for hiding the last bit of twist that the tailor needed to complete the waistcoat for the mayor's wedding. I imagined one of the mice as Karl Lagerfeld.
My illustration was shredded by the person in charge of the critique. He said it was too far out of line with his instructions! I reminded him that he said anything goes, but evidently I had gone too far. He gave me props for it being the weirdest interpretation of Beatrix Potter he had ever seen. It's a good thing I didn't submit my original idea: "The Tailor of Gloucester as a costume designer on a film set starring animals in human roles. Think sci-fi."
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